Wild With You(9)

By: Layla Hagen


We'd learned not to ask, because he wasn't allowed to speak about his work, but we'd also learned to read clues into his body language. A frown was easy to erase. We could count on a little old-fashioned sibling teasing to do the trick. A scowl required a bit more creativity. Hunched shoulders meant shit had hit the fan. We hadn't yet discovered how to take his mind off that, but we weren't giving up.

Currently, Will's expression was somewhere between a scowl and a frown.

"What do you think? Teasing will be enough?" I asked, sipping wine.

Val nodded excitedly. "If we team up? Of course."

We waited for the boys to finish their dart game. When Milo went to the bathroom, Will joined us on the couch, sitting between the two of us. Val and I exchanged a glance.

"I know that look," Will said.

Damn. My brother could smell a Connor Secret Intervention from a mile away.

"What look?" I asked innocently.

"You know I can't talk about work, so don't ask."

Val shook her head mockingly. "After all these years, he still hopes the badge might start working on us. You can't boss us around, brother."

"Watch me try," Will said. He was trying to sound firm, but I could hear the tinge of humor.

"I think he likes to fail," I teased.

"Girls, it's been a shitty day; that's all. No need for an ambush."

Val brought her hands to her chest theatrically. "Ouch. This is an intervention. I'm wounded that you can't tell the difference."

"Yeah. An ambush requires Hailey's presence too," I informed him.

Our brother burst out laughing. Mission accomplished.

"Mommy, I'm ready to go," Milo said, returning to the living room.

"I'll drive you," Will offered.

"Thanks."

Milo fell asleep on the way home.

"Milo said Father/Son sports day is coming up at school. He asked me to go with him," Will whispered. My heart gave a little squeeze. He hadn't told me about it. "You okay with that?"

"Sure... if it's not inconvenient for you."

"Not at all. Besides, it's good for people to know he's got the handsome part from the Connor bloodline," he said with a straight face. My brother, always so humble.

"Thanks, Will. I appreciate it."

Will often participated at school events. Jace had been on a few occasions, but the presence of a soccer star caused such mayhem that the teachers pulled me to the side and asked if it was possible for Will to come instead. Most of the time, I thought Milo and I were doing okay on our own, but school events were rough. Sometimes he'd tell me about "manly stuff" his friends were doing with their fathers, and guilt flooded me. My brothers were quick to fill those shoes, but I wasn't sure it was enough. It ate away at me to know I couldn't give Milo more, but I didn't know how to do better.

Later that evening, after putting Milo to bed, I dashed across the bamboo flooring, closing the plantation shutters at the windows. It was a particularly windy evening. I owned a two-bedroom house complete with a white picket fence and an orange tree in the backyard. I'd snapped the property up when it was in foreclosure, so I paid a decent price. The area was safe but almost on the outskirt of LA. Still, it had good schools. The entire house had been rundown, but renovating it proved worthwhile.

The coved ceiling and wainscoting gave it an old-school vibe I loved. It was cozy. At the moment, it was also rather dusty, but I hated cleaning with a passion. A cleaning company came in once a week, but dust gathered in between. I'd gotten really good at ignoring it.

I had to wake up early tomorrow. Three times a week, I woke up at five to work out one hour on the elliptical. Twice a week, I ran with four other mothers from the neighborhood, whom I'd come to consider close friends. Now, running was something I loved. Filled me with energy. Hailey had once jokingly suggested I think about cleaning as working out, but the trick hadn't worked.

Instead of going to bed, I poured myself a glass of wine and pulled up the website of the bridal shop Amber and I were going to visit. Their dresses were beautiful. I loved them all, no matter the shape or length. I'd dreamed about my own wedding dress since I'd tried on Mom's when I was six. I was still dreaming about it, but right now, the boy sleeping in the next room was my priority. I played one of my favorite romantic comedies in the background. I liked listening to music or hearing the dialogue from some of my beloved movies while working.

I was up so late I got hungry... which made me think about Graham. Again. My body felt like a livewire just remembering our evening. Despite the fact that my stomach rumbled, I resisted the urge to make a beeline for the kitchen. No more delicious goodies for me. I'd indulged enough tonight... with the pasta and the man cooking it.